The Explosion

Finding a job in the late seventies, when I first got out of high school, wasn’t difficult. Especially if you were looking for an unskilled minimum wage job. I had worked in restaurants since I was too young to work, but I wasn’t too hot on the restaurant business. I’d had my fill, you might say.

 

I went through a long list of jobs in a short span of time. I really didn’t see much sense in staying anyplace I didn’t like, jobs were everywhere and I usually had another one by the time I got home from quitting the one I started with in the morning. Looking back, that probably was not the ideal way to look at a career but then, I wasn’t looking for a career. I just needed a job.

 

Before long, I ended up working at a Sears store. It was coming up on Christmas time and they needed someone to assemble bicycles. We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, so all but one of the bicycles I ever had as a kid were pieced and parted together. Plus, we were always trading parts back and forth, so this was a job I knew a little about and I put a lot of bicycles together that year.

 

I guess I did a good job, because, after Christmas, they offered me a job in the Display Department. That was great by me because you got to build things and decorate for all the different holidays. I loved it and I worked with good people. They were a quirky bunch but they were good people.

 

One of the things we did on a regular basis was to pile into a big old green box truck that had been retired at least once but because we were the display department and didn’t need it for much that was big and heavy, we inherited Big Green. It wasn’t the normal Sears green, although I’m sure it started out that way. But Big Green had seen better days and what paint wasn’t scraped off or covered with screwed on sheet metal, was certainly faded way past the normal Sears green.

 

The fact that we got the hand me down, mostly dead and dying Big Green, wasn’t lost on us and I must admit we probably did not treat that big old dinosaur with any of the respect it was due, if only for surviving as long as it had. It had been beaten and battered long before it ever made its way to the Display Department and we certainly saw no reason to change its fate at such a late date.

 

I had never driven a big box truck before. I’d driven cars and pickups since I was old enough to sit on my Dad’s lap and steer, but this big old monster was well beyond anything I had tackled before.

 

One of the people I worked with was a fireman named Gary that had probably spent way too long running into buildings that citizens were running out of. There was nothing especially wrong with Gary, he just had probably seen too much scary stuff and so he spent the time that he wasn’t fighting fires, being happy. He pretty much was either smiling or making other people smile. And then there were the practical jokes but they ran rampant in the Display Department anyway.

 

I was always up to get out of the store and ride to the warehouse where a lot of our supplies were stored. Gary felt about the same, so he and I were often the ones sent. Gary had driven fire trucks, so Big Green was nothing to him. He realized I never offered to drive and figured out I had never driven anything that big, so of course, he set out to change that.

 

It really wasn’t long until he had me weaving my way through Pinellas County traffic in Big Green like a rock star. Well, maybe not quite like a rock star but I never hit another car or caused any damage. Well, until the explosion.

 

Gary had this trick he did that I thought was funny and would scare the snot out of the people around us in traffic. He would push in the clutch, shut off the ignition, pump the gas a few times, turn the ignition back on and then pop the clutch. The result was some, quite excellent, backfires. Excellent for us, terrifying for the surrounding drivers, but it woke them up and they were paying much better attention to their surroundings after we were done with them.

 

To be honest, I kind of looked up to Gary. I mean, he was a fireman, he was crazy, and he taught me how to drive this big old truck.

 

One day, I was driving and Gary was riding and he told me to make it backfire. I’m not sure if he had spotted an especially ripe target or he was just bored or both. Turns out, I wasn’t so hot at doing the whole backfire thing. I’m not sure exactly why, probably just didn’t have my timing down quite right but whatever the reason, I was not yet proficient.

 

I tried a couple times but I was having an especially bad day of it and Gary thought that was very funny. I was getting frustrated and probably a little embarrassed, but whichever got the best of me, I finally asked him, quite loudly, I’m sure, what in the …….heck, was I doing wrong? That just made him laugh more.

 

I quit trying and we rode on down the road. Then he looked at me and told me to make it backfire again. I told him I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I should have noticed that he wasn’t exactly laughing anymore, that he still had a big smile on his face and a kind of twinkle in his eye. I should have noticed those things, but I didn’t.

 

He said, “You’re just not pumping the gas enough.” I should have figured it out but, I was young and I had reached that perfect point of frustration that meant, I was going to show him I could backfire with the best of them. All those times I had tried and failed and he had laughed because I wasn’t coordinated enough to do what he could do without even half trying. I should have noticed that extra twinkle in his eye, but I didn’t.

 

I waited until we were headed down a little incline and I pushed in the clutch, turned off the ignition and pumped that gas pedal for all I was worth, turned the ignition back on and popped the clutch.

 

Now, I didn’t see any flames or even a flash but I did see the looks on the faces of the drivers around us in traffic. There were so many stark white faces that it was a little like an instantaneous snowstorm had come out of nowhere right in the middle of that hot summer day. Of course, I didn’t think all this then, I didn’t think about much of anything, directly after the explosion.

 

I know that the truck did not literally raise up off its wheels, I know that, I do, but it sure felt like it. I had popped the clutch and the noise that came from under Big Green was like no other backfire I had ever heard. I was proud, I was. Until I noticed the noises that came after the initial explosion. I say explosion because it was more than just a backfire, it was more than any backfire Gary had ever created. It was the kind of noise that seems to suck all the other noises right out of the air. Like a huge vacuum, like being in outer space, like sitting directly on top of an explosion.

 

The part I couldn’t figure out right away was all the other noises that happened after the explosion. There was bumping and scraping and grinding noises. And the most interesting part was that those noises, the ones after the explosion, weren’t stopping. They were continuing on, chasing us down the road like a…………..well, like an entire exhaust system from a big old mean nasty green Sears truck. And then there were no more noises, well except for the fact that the truck was quite a bit louder now than it had been before the explosion. I guess I hadn’t noticed up until then because of all the other noises and how your ears kind of feel like there’s too much air in them right after you’ve been way too close to an explosion.

 

That’s about when  I looked in the mirrors and noticed there were no cars behind us for quite a ways. At first I thought it was because we had scared them off, you know, with the explosion, but then I saw it, the entire exhaust system from a big old nasty green Sears truck laying across the lane quite a ways behind us, in fact just about the same distance as the first vehicle I could see behind us. I was never quite sure whether that first vehicle behind us had actually hit that entire exhaust system from a big old nasty green Sears truck, but I do know it stopped.

 

I looked over at Gary and he was doubled over in his seat holding his stomach, at first I thought he was injured, you know, from the explosion but then I realized he was laughing, but he wasn’t making any sound. Then I noticed the tears on his face. He saw me looking at him and I’m not sure what kind of look I had on my face, but it just made him laugh harder. I was concerned about the vehicle in the mirror and I asked Gary if we should stop or go back, but he just shook his head from side to side and laughed. His face was beet red, his eyes were bloodshot and I think the front of his pants might have been a little wet but he kept shaking his head from side to side, so I took that as a “no” and drove on.

 

It wasn’t long before the traffic was all around us again, almost as if nothing had happened at all. But I knew something had happened and Gary knew something had happened and I’m pretty sure that vehicle back there, that I could no longer see in the mirrors, knew something had happened.

 

We had returned some things to the warehouse and had been on our way back when the explosion happened. We coasted into the parking lot behind the Sears store and slowly got out and started for the loading dock. No one had seemed to notice how much louder the truck was. No one seemed to notice us at all. I felt a little let down for some reason but Gary hadn’t completely recovered, so I knew it had really happened. As we walked along he put his arm across my shoulders and said, “Nice backfire, kid.” I told him, “that was no backfire, that was an explosion!” He started up laughing again and headed for the restroom.

 

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The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

declaration_of_independence_630

Obtained From the National Archive

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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A Life That I Love

Our road is most likely similar to many other rural lime rock roads. Rutted and overgrown in places by grass and weeds, with low spots that collect the rain and high spots that shun it. A very ordinary lime rock road indeed. Dusty and bumpy, with overgrown shoulders.

 

Should I find it hard then, to explain why it would produce such comforting emotions in me, by simply making the turn down it at the end of a day at work? Or even on a day off, when I’ve been wandering, which is one of my favorite things to do, there is something that welcomes me as soon as I pass the mailboxes at the end. It is an embrace that begins at the corner and grows warmer and tighter the further down the road I come.

 

I guess it is obvious, I suppose, that it is the home at the end, that beckons and whispers in my ear, but there are so many pieces and parts that make this place a home. The familiar gate, the canine faces that appear and bark and whine, just within it, as if to sing a song of welcome to a lonely traveler’s heart. The paws that bounce off my legs, no matter how many times I have scolded them to stay down, that in fact are just a part of the song and dance that is hello. A bit of roguish misbehavior that has never quite been trained away, perhaps because I secretly love the act and what it means.

 

The ragged yard that is never quite evenly cut with random holes dug in the chase of some bug, unseen. The messy flower beds that never seem to grow exactly what is planted in exactly the way they were planned. Trees in need of trimming, weeds in need of pulling, shredded toys in need of discarding. Steps in need of sweeping, leading to a porch that always has an odd assortment of things that decidedly, do not belong on a porch but never seem to find their way back to where they do belong. A porch with a swing for sitting that never quite has enough open space to allow much sitting at all.

 

On those days when I am the last one home, sometimes if my timing is right, the door opens and the one who makes this old house in need of much, seem so abundant and so much like the best house around to be coming home to, smiles a “hello”. Not just a simple “hello”, though not flamboyant, but one that means so much more because not only is it spontaneous but because I know it is mirrored on my own face. Our smiles of greeting for each other are complete, they are not just a passing gesture of the mouth but a choreographed movement that engulfs the whole of our faces, from laughing eyes to the affectionate tilt of our heads.

 

Why should this messy, ill kept, dusty old house reach out to hug my soul so? Because it holds all that makes a life. The memories and mementos of time spent between best friends. The odd ticket stub or yard sale find that never quite found its place. The empty box saved for some long forgotten use that once held some long forgotten treasure. Dusty pictures on the dusty mantle of days gone by but fondly remembered. A perfect example of what makes a structure a shelter, a shelter an abode, a house a home.

 

The cross on the wall reminds me of how much I am blessed and how much I have been blessed. It represents the One that is greater than either or both of us. The One who made sure we met, in the most unlikely way. The One who pushed us back together when one or both of us were ready to call it quits. The One who blessed us with more than a love but a friendship and a camaraderie that rises above the romance of a young love to a kind of joining together that mere love or lust could never attain or sustain.

 

This rutted and overgrown lime rock road draws me back and welcomes me in because it leads to a life that I love, with all its trials and troubles. A house that is home and a heart that is true and ruthless in its love and friendship. A comforting hug, a hand in mine. A place where I will always matter, a soul that will always care for me. A dog in a window, steps that will always lift me back up, and a porch light that will always show me my way home.

 

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Forgiveness

Eph 4:31   Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Eph 4:32   Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

As time drifts along, it becomes apparent that changes happen when I’m not looking. Things that seemed so foreign not so very long ago, seem so common place now.

I like to think of myself as a pretty forgiving kind of guy. I’m usually pretty good at understanding when mistakes are made and of course, it helps when there’s an apology but in reality, true apologies are rare and I’ve learned that if the only way I’m going to forgive someone is through their apology, then I’m kind of missing the point.

I know that sounds like I get wronged a lot, but that’s not true. I do have a soft heart with most people, so I do get my feelings hurt on occasion but probably not much more than anyone else.

There have always been certain people though, that I’ve held on to grudges against. Not a lot of them but some. They’ve usually been the ones that have done things that were completely out of my control. Especially when they’ve done things that hurt people I cared about. I think those things are hard things to forgive.

I have noticed though that the more I realize some of the things that I’ve done in my life, those things I’m not especially proud of, the things that have hurt other people, the more of those I remember, the easier it has become for me to forgive others.

There’s nothing like watching memories of your own behavior to get you to reexamine the behavior of others.

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You Can Learn So Much In a Year

June 7, 1934 - April 10, 2014

Ronald B. Wendell

6/7/1934 – 4/10/2014

 

I’ve learned a lot in the last year. I’ve learned that disagreements don’t mean much. I’ve learned that pride will rob you blind. I’ve learned that when people are still alive, it’s much easier to remember the bad times and after they die, it’s much easier to remember the good.

 

I’ve learned that all those sappy things that people say about making sure you let people know how you feel about them, are true. I’ve learned that it is much easier to let some people know how you feel about them than it is others. I’ve learned that those people that are the hardest to show how you feel about them, are probably the ones that need to know the most.

 

16

 

Maybe the thing that I have learned the most in the last year is that no matter how you get along with someone, no matter what you choose to remember about them, they weren’t just that person that you remember. I’ve learned that what you remember about a person is filtered greatly by the level of difficulty you had in understanding that person. It is filtered by the difference between you and them, and sometimes, by the ways that you were alike.

 

Maybe the toughest thing I’ve learned in the last year is that sometimes the more strained your relationship was with them, the harder it is to deal with them being gone.

 

The story that I think will always be my favorite about my Dad, was the year that Lori and I needed to replace a section of roof on the back of our house. Lori and I figured that we could do it, we can be pretty handy. I’m not sure how my Dad found out about the upcoming project but he did. As soon as he did, he wanted to know all about it but mostly, when we were going to do it because he was going to be there to help.

 

I can’t remember the exact year or exactly how old my Dad was at the time but he was beyond the age that he should be ripping off an old rotten wood roof and putting on a new tin one over a set of cement stairs. I assured him that Lori and I would take our time and be able to get it done but he wasn’t having any of that. He wanted to know when we were going to do it and what time we wanted him to show up. As much as I tried to dissuade him and as much as I tried to not let him know when it was going to happen, he found out and because we wouldn’t give him an exact time we were going to start, he just told me that he would see me in the morning. In case you didn’t know my Dad, it could be impossible to change his mind, once he had made it up.

 

Dads Birthday

 

My Dad was on blood thinners for a number of years before he died and he had already fallen off his own roof because he didn’t see the need to ask someone else to come clean the leaves and branches off of it. The thought of having my Dad climbing around on partially rotten beams that hung over cement stairs scared the crud out of me. But it became apparent that this was one of those times that it didn’t matter what anyone said, he had made his mind up and he was going to be there.

 

When the morning came, he and my Mom showed up first thing and he was probably the first one up the ladder. The rest of the story is pretty anticlimactic, thank you Jesus. He climbed around that day as easily as I did and probably out worked me in the end. We got the old roof off and the new one on and nobody fell onto the cement stairs below. At the end of the day I hugged him and thanked him and he walked away like it was nothing.

 

1959515_10Dad and I on my seventh birthday.152372620194184_6080915473212017016_n

 

I remember a story that my Dad told me a number of times through the years. He told me that early on in my Mom and his marriage, they were moving from one place to another. The place they were moving out of was upstairs and he had lined up a number of friends that all promised to come and help them move. The morning of the move though, nobody showed up. He told me that it was a hard day moving, that there were some things that were heavy enough that the only way he could get them down the stairs was to put straps around them and basically tie them to his back.

 

It’s funny but for someone who had a hard time talking about his feelings in a calm and cool way, he calmly told me that it wasn’t the actual work that he would never forget but the fact that for whatever reason, nobody that had promised him they would be there, ever showed up.

 

Even though we never asked and even though we tried everything we could to keep him off our roof, I think the reason he wouldn’t take no for an answer was because of that time probably a half a century before when nobody showed up to help.

Did you know, you can learn an awful lot in a year?

Mom and Dad

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All For One

For years now, I’ve had a number of blogs. Each one had its own theme and I kept them seperate. I figured that way, if someone was interested in something that fit into this one theme, they could go to this blog and if they didn’t really care for that, they could go to this one.

I have to admit that I was trying to please everybody by splitting myself up into pieces. All those pieces were parts of me but they were somehow disconnected. I didn’t want to offend anyone. I didn’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable.

Lately, I’ve realized that my thought process might have been a little flawed. I realized that by breaking my writing into pieces, I was losing a lot of what I was about. I realized that the focus shouldn’t be writing for other people really, it should be writing because I wanted to share. Not just share what I thought others wanted to read but sharing the parts of me that might be worth sharing.

The reality was I never wrote much on the blogs. I would get all serious about it and write a post or two on this one or on another one but it never lasted for long. I think some of that was because I was always trying to decide what to write on which one.

I was trying to figure out where things fit in, when really eveytihing I write fits into me. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say it comes through me. I absorb facts and feelings and overheard conversations. I read an article or some scripture, I watch something on television and my brain mixes it all together and filters it back out through my personality and out the ends of my fingers it comes.

I don’t want you to think that my brain or my filter is any more unique than anyone else’s, I just like to share what rolls around in my head. Some people paint pictures or sculpt clay or draw, I write. I do other things but really when I get back to basics, I write. It is the thing I have wanted to do the longest and when I put time and effort into it, it is the thing that is the most fulfilling for me.

So, to wrap all this up and stop wandering around, what I’m trying to say is, this is where you’ll catch me doing most of my writing. I’ll throw in a picture or two from time to time because photography runs a close second to writing. I enjoy catching just the right shot, the one that isn’t just pretty but that causes someone to feel a feeling or remember a memory. So, there will be pictures but mostly, there will be writing. I’m hoping by simplifying this whole process, it might happen a little more often.

oh yeah, and music………..

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One of My First Loves

Anybody that knows me, knows that Lori is the love of my life. We were truly meant to be together, in fact, we really didn’t have a whole lot of choice, but that’s a different post.

One of my very first loves though, was writing. There is just something about putting words down on a page, or a screen, that people read and get something out of. I’ve just never found anything else that feels the same way. Photography comes close but it isn’t the same.

I guess part of why writing feels the way it does to me is because I’ve never been able to write much that didn’t have bits and pieces of me in it, even when I tried to keep them out. The funny thing is that I don’t necessarily notice it at the time. It’s when I’ve finished and read back through that I realize that I’ve left more on the page than I intended. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast, all these words have to come from somewhere.

Probably one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written was originally written for a column in the Williston Pioneer. I set out to write about an older gentleman who was very important to me and actually helped form the way I looked at the world. I lamented that, because I was so young, I couldn’t really remember exactly what we talked about or even how his voice sounded. I thought it was strange that I could know that he had made such a difference in my life and then not really remember exactly what he did to accomplish that.

I’ve thought about it over the years and a couple things have become clear. Whatever it was that Mr. Thomas said to me while we walked up to the post office every morning, it stuck. Though I’ve wandered away from writing many times, I always come back. I always realize that there is a part of me that isn’t quite realized any other way. Maybe that was what he did for me, he pointed my compass in this particular direction and whenever I need to get my bearings, I get that compass out and the words start to stream out. I’m always a little rusty when I first come back but that’s okay because that’s part of the process. Unlike a real compass that comes around instantly, mine always takes a few swings before it finds true North.

So, in talking about one of my first true loves, I guess what I’m doing is telling Mr. Thomas that I’m back. I might not always write the same sort of things that he did, he was a historian, but I can’t help but hope that some of these words belong to him and I’m just borrowing them to keep them, and maybe him, alive.

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Yulee Railroad Days

Like many other small towns in North Central Florida, Archer‘s size and its make up has changed over the years. In the 1840s to the 1850s, it was known as Deer Hammock and then Darden’s Hammock.  David Levy Yulee, who owned a plantation in the area, changed its name to Archer, in honor of a friend, James T. Archer, the former Secretary of State of Florida, who was a close friend.

From the City of Archer’s website:

“According to Rance Braley’s book Nineteenth Century Archer (available for purchase at the depot), by 1844, Archer had nine general stores, a sawmill, three saloons, a hotel, and many other businesses. In the mid 1890′s, Henry Plant built a rail line through Archer to Tampa.”

David Levy Yulee was born in 1810 and went on to become an attorney, a territorial delegate to Congress, the first Jewish member of the United States Senate, a member of the Confederate Congress during the American civil War and the founder of the Florida Railroad Company. The city of Archer celebrates Yulee Railroad Days in his honor.

I attended this year’s Yulee Railroad Days and came away with a few photos to share.

Firing the CannonIf you put a photographer anywhere near a cannon, it is a guarantee that they will spend as long as it takes to get a shot just as it is fired.

Firing the Cannon

1890′s house

Archer Mansion

One of the exhibits inside Archer’s Railroad Museum.

Inside Railroad Museum

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Town of Tioga Art Festival

Lori and I went to the Art Festival in Town of Tioga yesterday. There was a number of amazing artists there but one in particular stood out.

Eric Shupe, Recurve Creations, made my day with an art form that I had never seen done before. Well, that’s not entirely true, we’ve all seen people make things out of silverware before but Eric’s art is a huge step above anything I’ve seen done with this medium. It literally stopped me in my tracks.

Alissa by Eric Shupe

Click on the image above and go see some more of this artist’s work.

from Eric’s site:

“The most common question I get is “How did you come up with the idea to make things out of silverware?”. The answer usually gets a laugh out of everyone. I was sitting at a table and looked down to see 2 spoons laying upside down next to each other. My first thought was “That looks just like a butt”. So I went with that.”

“ This piece (the one pictures above) was one I made of my daughter, Alissa. Alissa is my pride and joy and I wanted to make a piece that captured her beauty and grace.”

The festival is open again today from 10-5 and is definitely worth the trip. For those who might not know where Town of Tioga is, it is between Gainesville and Jonesville on Newberry Road or State Road 26.

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